Something bugs me about the ‘intervention’ in Toradora!

toradora-23-large-34

Something’s not sitting well with me regarding the ‘intervention.’ No I’m not interested in evaluating the standing of Toradora! The show has become notable enough that bloggers and fans have laid out high expectations for it (including myself), that there are those who are interested in seeing the show fail if only to prove the hype-makers and the hype-buyers foolish. This post is not part of that conversation.

I’m here to comment on episode 23′s ‘intervention.’ I don’t like it. I don’t like how this group of friends – with their alliances as flimsy as they are at this point of the narrative, suddenly link minds like Grace O’Connor and the Macross Galaxy High Command and force a resolution to a teenage romance impasse.

toradora-23-large-32

Sure Kitamura cares about Ryuuji’s happiness. Sure Minorin cares deeply about Taiga’s happiness and perhaps Ryuuji’s integrity. Sure Ami needs to get some kicks to get a return on the sunk cost of her prolonged stay in this backwater school. But force mutual confessions in a classroom between two independent individuals? These kids are way over their heads.

Their real problems are their inability to make informed decisions about their futures. Ryuuji is emotional in that he doesn’t want his mother to make more sacrifices for his sake. Fool! Doing this for him is his mother’s ambition in life. He is so selfish that way! My own mother gave everything up to put three sons through school – and to stop her from doing so all of us can eke a life on subsistence incomes is patently ludicrous. I make good money now and I can afford to support my own mother and start my own family. Mama can’t be happier. Ryuuji isn’t seeing this yet, and that’s where his friends can make a difference.

ghostlightning-mama-hospital-when-i-caught-pneumonia

Showing Mama some Macross Frontier

Taiga too, has no ambition whatsoever. What can all of them expect? She has no parental figures she can learn from. If her friends want to do something for her, a conversation about the life she really wants is what’s called for.

Instead they chose to meddle in a love affair. All of them need a serious reality check.

Taiga and Ryuuji's friends

Taiga and Ryuuji's friends seem like all the Macross Frontier shippers who demand a resolution to the triangle, only more forceful.

Now that I’ve spoken about the motivation and logic relevant to their intervention, let’s look at the execution. Minorin, Kitamura, and Ami acted with a strong sense of urgency. WHAT’S THE FREAKING HURRY? Taiga and Ryuuji are neighbors and have given no indication of moving out (correct me if I’m wrong!). They’re teenagers! They have all the time in their lives to feel their way around their relationship. And even if they don’t end up together, it is no great tragedy – at least relative to the decisions they’re making about their independent futures.

The key here is their meddlesomeness, given the lack of real urgency. Consider this case: I have a friend, let’s call him FrostyGale and he’s into this girl Lychee who he can’t confess to because she’s his boss, and he’s sooooooo confused. Let’s say I along with his friends jailbaitfox, all-father, and Cronocifix kidnap Lychee and FrostyGale and force sparks to fly to set their love on fire.

What does this say about us as friends? Isn’t it apparent that we’re just tired of the emo and want a resolution either way? Are we really out for either party’s best interests? Do we have the right to intervene, even if Lychee was also our friend? How about some Gundam slapping action for all parties involved (except Lychee)?

gundam-slap

The shift in focus from friendship to love affair resolution in Toradora! Is not a problem in itself for me. Rather, it’s the corrosion of the friendships, and the characters that foment it that bothers me about the show. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, this is not an evaluation of the quality of the show. People will use arguments like these anyway; and I wouldn’t intervene in anyone’s attempt to use them to justify their own positions.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, Toradora! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Something bugs me about the ‘intervention’ in Toradora!

  1. cuchlann says:

    I sort-of expect a realization that they’re all basically too young to deal with most of this stuff. That’s what I see in the sudden (a few episodes ago, anyway) inclusion of the “future plans” plotline.

    What would these people do in the future, anyway? Ryuuji could probably be a professional cook if he got into a school; Taiga, uh… Well, no one knows. And I think that’s part of the trick.

    So, responding to your simple “liking it” statement, I was okay with the “intervention” (good term for it). Ami has been doing shit like this for a long time, and she’s always been good friends with Kitamura, I don’t think that’s changed over the course of the series. I interpreted it that Minori was actually one of the *subjects* of the intervention in a way, rather than one of the stagers. And like she needed to do, she got her shit out in the open and I think we’re past her complications.

    I agree that Ryuuji’s being immature, but that is the deal here: they’re sixteen to eighteen! That’s what that means! I actually appreciate that they’re not inexplicably mature and adjusted fully to society and their social relationships, because no one is at that age.

  2. IcyStorm says:

    FrostyGale, eh? =P

  3. Ryan A says:

    I didn’t demand a resolution in MF, I rather like the thought of “ongoing”… ^^

    Anyway, good point that intervention isn’t really a good way to go about something so simple… really now… it was like a stage and slightly forced.

    Cheerios [for breakfast]

  4. ghostlightning says:

    @ cuchlann

    I agree with your take, and am optimistic about the cast …

    I sort-of expect a realization that they’re all basically too young to deal with most of this stuff. That’s what I see in the sudden (a few episodes ago, anyway) inclusion of the “future plans” plotline.

    … save for your giving Ami too much credit. Even if she’s just being opportunistic, the overall effect of the scene is that of contrivance – at least to me.

    Again, your take on their maturity – it’s good and I’m completely on-board. It’s the intervention that bugs me, in terms of it appearing contrived, and how stunts like this aren’t really or shouldn’t really be done.

    It’s not my intent to moralize or dictate ‘standards’ of friendship, it’s just my opinion – and at present independent of my evaluation of the show as a whole (I’ll wait for the finale).

    @ IcyStorm

    Do you think this post is about you?

    @ Ryan A

    I didn’t mind the lack of resolution as much as others did. Macross has been vague about resolving its triangles after the decisive original series.

    That said, “ongoing” is a bit of a problem for me given how Macross launches sequels years into the future when the unresolved stories should have been resolved but only remain untold.

    As you said… “it was like a stage and slightly forced.”

  5. tj han says:

    They really are short of time. They only have a few episodes to go lol.

  6. DonKangolJones says:

    I gotta agree with cuchlann on Minori being a “subject” of that intervention. And I do enjoy the fact that they are immature and make stupid decisions (to a point). That’s why the show won me over by the halfway point.

    Probably, the reason I didn’t really complain about that scene was because as a fan (or fanboy), I had been getting tired of the situation dragging on for as long as it did. The scene, like a few of the others in the series, felt forced . And it felt like a big risk, since in reality, putting people on the spot like that can backfire & degrade the situation even more. But for me, it was worth the progression of the plot.

    By the way, I love the “Gundam-slap” collage! There’s nothing like a good “Bright-slap” to start your day! :-)

  7. ghostlightning says:

    @ tj han

    Agreed. Unfamiliar as I am with the source material, I do hope something conclusive happens in this adaptation. Not a lot of time to do so.

    @ DonKangoJones

    I’m a big fan of this show too. There are moments in the past episodes that have exceeded the feelings I had for Honey and Clover which is a beloved show of mine.

    We don’t know yet if the plot will indeed progress. Taiga or Ryuuji can respectfully tell all of them to stay the fuck out of their business.

    Glad you liked the collage, someone should make one for Toradora!, given how violent it is.

  8. Son Gohan says:

    In defense of Minori, her intervention wasn’t scripted but the result of a fit of rage over Ryuuji’s lies. I still think that she is a hypocrite because she claims that she doesn’t want to be manipulated but she is doing the same thing here with Taiga and Ryuuji.
    Yusaku and Ami, being the perceptive people they are, immediately understood their role without speaking. They forced Taiga to confront her feelings but eventually Ami yielded when Taiga couldn’t bear the pression anymore.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I can see how she’s more manipulated rather than manipulator. It doesn’t make it okay for her to confront them like that. If it’s her business then it shouldn’t be that public.

      Ami and Yusaku do NOT know their roles. Their roles is to be supportive but NOT meddlesome. If either of them have unsolicited advice they insist on giving, they should just take a number.

  9. Marmoset says:

    ‘The intervention’ strikes me as just another in the long line of melodramatic and contrived scenes that made me drop this a couple episodes ago. I really don’t see how this can have a satisfying conclusion (I’m once again reminded of Kimikiss).

    Argh why does this show always raise my ire?

    • ghostlightning says:

      I haven’t seen Kimikiss so I won’t get your reference. I am sympathetic to your citing of the contrivances. Those didn’t bother me as much as it did you because the set up and related material is very strong – I could easily overlook those conceits.

      But not this one, however. I feel that it just drew too much attention to itself.

      That said, I still love the show and its characters – despite my apparent rage at them in this post.

  10. maakusutipen says:

    I’m with Tj han… they are forcing things because they are running out of time…

    And as much as Ren Ai stories go either in manga, dorama or anime, I think it is canon that all plot lines tend to emphasize that people should be honest with their feelings and try to communicate that in a way within the time limit given. And almost always for that matter, its the people around them that goad or force them to come into terms with their feelings. If people become stunted, the scenario might go into School days mode and we might have a nice boat ending in our hands.

    It is like the same cockblockers minutes ago would then shove the romantic leads together now.

  11. cuchlann says:

    It’s not like the sudden turn-around at the end is new — it’s traditional in a New Comedy (which I take Toradora for).

    I was going to talk more about that, but it’s led me to a delicious thought I might develop into a post when the show’s finished:

    Ami is Touchstone (from Shakespeare’s As You Like It). Awesome.

  12. ghostlightning says:

    @ maakasutipen

    Given what you shared, I feel that the contrivance is even more pronounced. The cockblockers doing a sudden 180 isn’t enjoyable for me to witness.

    @ cuchlann

    Well, tease me will ya eh? I’ll look forward to your post then!

  13. otou-san says:

    the overall effect of the scene is that of contrivance

    Yes. Forced, etc. maakasutipen called well, too. Rambles follow.

    I devoted a whole post to how none of the characters were being true to themselves, and of course the standard anime route is to climactically remove those masks at some point. I even planned on playing devil’s advocate to you, to this point, after we talked. But I just can’t believably argue that it should have gone like this.

    I figured it would be pretty explosive, but given the expectations we’ve developed for the series I really hoped it’d be a little more natural. This “intervention” as you call it is not the answer, even if this giddy chocolate scene was a great catalyst for the truth to come out.

    Minori flipping on Taiga was probably the worst, at least dialog-wise. To me it still seemed like she was still being the self-sacrificing friend, when a more realistic response would probably be “I sacrificed my feelings for your sake and you I won’t let you waste that you selfish asshole” etc.

    My guesses are either:

    1. We actually do need a contrivance around now, since it’s getting down to the wire. Even so, it could have been much more subtle.

    2. It’s an execution problem. Maybe the light novel told the scene without all the histrionics, and the interpretation on the part of JC Staff and the director was a little over the top. The emphasis here on the animation and rendering tells me they placed great importance on it, but for my money the seconds leading up to it with the pained secret glances between Minori and Ryuuji was worth 1000x more.

  14. omisyth says:

    With the shift to love comes irrationality in the actions of the characters. We could just presume that none of them have any idea what the hell they’re doing because they’re either confused by feelings of love or have no idea how to handle their friends who possess those feelings. They are just kids after all.

  15. DonKangolJones says:

    Quoting otou-san’s post: “I sacrificed my feelings for your sake and you I won’t let you waste that you selfish asshole”

    You have no idea how much I would have enjoyed hearing that from Minori. She has seemed like such a “static” character for so long, that for the sake of the story, I just wished she would get over her hang ups & put away that mask of her’s. You know what I mean by mask. Her crutch of acting super cheery and oblivious to most all personal circumstances. The problem is that in reality, she probably would be better off left alone until she’s ready to speak about it. Much like Taiga & Ryuuji would be, too.

    I know I’m hurting my integrity with this, but I’m an Ami fan. And I fully realize the inconsistencies of liking one mask wearing character over another.

  16. ghostlightning says:

    @ omisyth

    The reasoning you provide is sound, they’re kids who don’t know what they’re doing. From this ignorance to have produced such a set-piece confrontation is the implausible contrivance.

    @ DonKangoJones

    Being an Ami fan doesn’t hurt anyone’s credibility. She’s an attractive nuanced character, with a bit of tragedy that makes her winsome and affords her the spiteful behavior without completely turning off her friends and audience.

    @ otou-san

    I get uncomfortable with ideas that suppose to suggest what the creators “should have done,” but I’ll frame your input as “what I/we would rather see.”

    Minori flipping on Taiga was probably the worst, at least dialog-wise. To me it still seemed like she was still being the self-sacrificing friend, when a more realistic response would probably be “I sacrificed my feelings for your sake and you I won’t let you waste that you selfish asshole” etc.

    I would’ve rather seen her assert herself for her own sake, yes. Enough of the martyrdom shit – which to me communicates so much self-hate in her case. The character of Minorin has been established, no need to pierce the heavens with a drill concerning it.

    Regarding your guesses:

    1. THIS, though I’m not necessarily happy with it. Cuchlann above is quoting Shakespeare who happily contrived scenes and resolutions; but using Cuchlann’s own reasoning re ‘Secondary Worlds’ (his subtitution for the idea of ‘willing suspension of disbelief’) the zaniness in Toradora! isn’t of a kind that foreshadows or prepares us for this event.

    Martian Successor: Nadesico
    is as contrived as hell, but it established itself as a show that makes the contrivances entertaining. I may still get surprised by the actual execution, but I’m less inclined to hold the contrivance itself against the show.

    Despite the escalation in contrivances in the past half-dozen episodes, this one still somehow breaks the threshold and ends up calling too much attention to itself.

    2.

    The emphasis here on the animation and rendering tells me they placed great importance on it, but for my money the seconds leading up to it with the pained secret glances between Minori and Ryuuji was worth 1000x more.

    They made a bet, that this scene would solve their narration problems it seems. The histrionics overpowered the nuance.

    I tried eating a hamburger of wagyu beef once, but I made a mistake of ordering the blue cheese version. It was delicious enough, but I got more of a cheesy experience than the meat.

  17. dazed, confused says:

    Right now, I can’t help but think “this is completely wrong”. A meaningless confession made even more meaningless because it was ignored despite being Goal #1 in the past few episodes? A at-least-partly-forced-together relationship, thanks in part to the acts of misguided teens doing what they think is best for others? A cruel repudiation of a mother’s sacrifice? “Let’s run away and get married?!” Things got so WTF, it just seems too ridiculous to continue on this path.

    I know certain people on the Webs that are a little unhappy with “reset” endings, but if any anime needed one, it’s this one. Everybody take a friggin’ time out and a few steps back from that ledge. There’s still the third year of school, guys. Oh, but you’re the kind of friends that only get together during classtime and maybe three times a year after school? Well then adjust your freakin’ schedules and maybe you can actually call yourselves friends.

    Please, let SOMEONE come to their senses and break out of this nosedive, it was a lot more fun when it seemed Ami, Minori and Taiga all had a chance to find happiness with Ryuuji, and when Ryuuji was, well, more sane.

    • ghostlightning says:

      SPOILER: Episode 24 amplified the ridiculousness – taking refuge in audacity now, and did not quite fix these ‘flaws.’

      Rather, 24 had so many awesome moments along with all its WTF that all in all it was a very rewarding watch.

      Minorin is endearing, very much so.

  18. gloval says:

    Et tu, Ghostlightning? I-i-it was you who made me know of ToraDora, and now, t-this??

    You may want to see the AnimeSuki threads for episodes 23 and 24 for answers. To help you plow through the noise, look for the posts from Vexx most especially. Other posters I find agreeable would be fish eric, Kaisos Erranon, relentlessflame, frivolity, apr, BetoJR. I post as CaptGloval by the way.

    Also, the questions about Minori (especially her hypocrisy in this “intervention” and her motivations in life) should’ve been answered in ep 24. And allow me to gloat on how I was right about the extent of Minori’s crush on Ryuuji. (I made the claim in the AnimeSuki ep 19 thread, starting here.)

    The reasoning you provide is sound, they’re kids who don’t know what they’re doing. From this ignorance to have produced such a set-piece confrontation is the implausible contrivance.

    Is implausibility one of your complaints with the intervention scene? Character’s ignorance? For questions on realism in high school shows like this, I always try to look back at my own high school memories. What I remember is that interventions of this sort, although less violent–the worst case that I remember is outright revelation or “laglagan”–do happen especially with high school kids (and onwards, I should say, because I remember my current bosses doing it too). Here’s the kicker, it usually happens when friends have known of at least a one-way attraction. This is exactly the case with the characters at that point in the story.

    Also, when discussing this intervention, one must also consider the previous two violent confrontations because of the striking similarities (I pointed that outhere).

    • gloval says:

      Oh lawl my attempt at drama phailed because I didn’t know tags are ignored. The first paragraph should’ve been this:

      [DRAMA]

      Et tu, Ghostlightning? I-i-it was you who made me know of ToraDora, and now, t-this??

      [/DRAMA]

  19. ghostlightning says:

    Well, the show has moved on – to a newer divisive episode, where I find myself among those who liked it/show as a whole amidst those who find ep 24 to be the last straw.

    From a response to a comment above:

    [ep] 24 had so many awesome moments along with all its WTF that all in all it was a very rewarding watch.

    Minorin is endearing, very much so.

    In the first place I didn’t make conclusions about Toradora! based on ep 23. I just find the whole set piece to be contrived on many levels.

    Whatever happens in the end, this anime showed me a few things about nuance and atmosphere.

  20. Turambar says:

    I think otou-san summed up my discomfort with that entire scene the best.

    “Minori flipping on Taiga was probably the worst, at least dialog-wise. To me it still seemed like she was still being the self-sacrificing friend, when a more realistic response would probably be “I sacrificed my feelings for your sake and you I won’t let you waste that you selfish asshole” etc.”

    While everyone’s actions left me a bit miffed during that scene, Minorin was the only one that left me sitting their, gawking at the screen, wondering if my memory of her declaring to Ami she would be more true to her feelings a few episodes back was a complete illusion. That and her conversation with Ryuji in the nurses office left me a bit confused. Though not soooooo confused.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Episode 24 was a big one for Minorin, if you ask me. Feel free to check back on this thread after you’ve seen the episode.

      • otou-san says:

        ep 24 just reinforces what I thought. As a character Minori went through a lot of crap but in the end didn’t really change much. Her little explosion on the ski slopes brought her closer to Ami, but really only served to let off just enough steam that she could go back to self-imposed repression.

        But the truth is, she’s most of her waking life repressing her emotions—  and as sad as it is to see her going back to that, that kind of behavior would be hard to just switch off.

      • Turambar says:

        In regards to Minorin in ep 24, I’m left wondering the why she cries at the end, whether it is because of the loss of Ryuji, or if it is the loss of Taiga.

    • ghostlightning says:

      This is how I read Minorin in ep 24:

      Is there still some repression? Yes. There is still much martyrdom in her actions. However, I’m giving her this much:

      1. One doesn’t go from repressed to fully self-expressed instantly, even after an epiphany. I myself have undergone many ‘aha!’ moments and realizations over the years and very often the changes don’t come instantly, if at all.

      2. One of the changes, and it’s a significant one, is that she does let out her emotion at the end of the episode. Who did she choose to be with? Ami – connecting her outburst from the ski slopes into a possibility of friendship and confidence (to confide).

      Re Turambar’s question: It doesn’t have to be either/or. She could be mourning of the passing of the idyll her life used to be (similar to how many people romanticize their high school experience).

      3. She crystallizes her life goal(s) (softball scholarship) – comparable and at the same time highly contrasting with those of Taiga and Ryuuji. Her focus on this frames her present and future decision-making.

      In #3, I do see some inconsistency. Minorin underscores her goals quite dramatically, and yet equally dramatically lends her life savings to the new couple, with ridiculously lax payment terms.

      I think the new couple will end up not using that money and giving it back to Minorin in full. The gesture will enjoy its full dramatic effect without resulting in any significant consequence.

  21. gloval says:

    @otou-san

    Minori does choose not to act on certain feelings. But it’s more of a grown-up behavior, so to have a teenager do it may be considered unrealistic? I think this is debatable, but my take is it’s not. Still I’d have to recheck the anime at least to see if it provides the proper context to make such characterization realistic.

    @Turambar

    You have to link Minori’s ep 24 scene with Ami to her scene with Ryuuji at the start of the episode (see this). What I got was this.

    @ghostlightning

    On your 3rd point. I think it’s really exaggerated in the anime (from unverified novel spoilers, there’s no mention on life savings, it was Ami that lent the keys to her villa with Ami-style flair). Although the gamble is valid: there’s still a year for Minori rebuild her savings and for Ryuuji and Taiga to earn what they have to pay back. As a friend, Minori doesn’t demand interest, but, also as friends, Ryuuji and Taiga might pay back with interest. And of course there’s that scenario you suggested, which I think is also what will happen. ;)

    • ghostlightning says:

      The gamble may not be valid, but it’s plausible. This may be the first time Minorin may be lending money to anyone. She’s young enough to not have been betrayed by debtors. Lastly, she’s really fond of her friends and is making her decision very emotionally.

  22. otou-san says:

    Minori does choose not to act on certain feelings. But it’s more of a grown-up behavior, so to have a teenager do it may be considered unrealistic? I think this is debatable, but my take is it’s not.

    I don’t think I’d argue with that. Like I said, it would be very difficult to instantly switch off her behavior when she’s still being self-sacrificing even as she unloads on Taiga.

    Minori does, as ghostlightning mentions, provide a little justification when she explains her goals to Ryuuji. She’s got her eyes on another prize, and in that regard her priorities might be a little straighter than anyone else’s.

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  25. Damn says:

    I actually think that Minorin deserves ryuuji more then taiga. She is selfish first kitamura then she finds out that he likes the prez so now it’s ryuuji WTF

  26. Damn says:

    But still I felt bad for minorin

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